April 8, 2011

Caffè Lena Open Mic, April 6

The house was packed but I found a seat at a table with a lovely couple, Josh McIntyre & Beatriz Loyola. Our host Carol Graser began with a poem by Sharon Olds, then on to the open mic.

Gordon Haymon brought us out of Winter to the flotsam "On Shore," even finding a boat with a crew.

Beth Kenyon, the first of the night's many virgins & the first of the mother-&-daughter teams, read a poem about Charlie Sheen, "Psychic Cosmic Warrior." Barbara Garro had "Roses" for our graves, & a creepy poem about a 4 year old being beaten. Hamiliton showed up dressed like Donovan (remember him?) & did a couple of short unrequited-love poems. Caffe Lena's own Sarah Craig read a seasonal poem, "Slow Thaw" then what she described as "a Mom poem." G.G. (or was it Gigi?) Devins read a rambling poem in loping rhymes about being up at night, "A Midnight Tangent." Carole Kenyon completed the other half of the first mother-&-daughter team with a poem about Jupiter's ocean moon, "Europa."

The featured poet was David Kaczynski whose book, A Dream Named You, came out in 2010 from Troy Book Makers. I had heard David read a number of years ago & have admired his larger work for social justice, particularly working to abolish the death penalty. He talked about how he came to write poetry after the trial of his brother Ted, the so-called "Unabomber." He read from his book, beginning with poems to his brother, "Woodsman" & "Lost," the themes expanding from the personal to relationships & even politics. "Rosillos Mountain" is in West Texas, where he once lived & is pictured on the cover of his book. His poems are mostly short, often aphoristic, as in "Balance," often slipping into abstraction. He was best when he focused on images, as in the dream poem "Excavation." He also talked about his writing group, some of whom were in the audience, how he wouldn't be writing without the group. He ended with a love poem, "Diaphanous Beauty Pearl."

After the break, Carol Graser brought us back to the open mic with a poem about an ice-skating collision, "Public Skate." Kate McNery's poem "The Mess" was a spider in her therapist's office. Therese Broderick read the latest poem, "The Art Salesman," from her new series about her father & the history of Watervliet. W.D. Clarke's "The Ballad of Robert Brill" was a tasty, rhyming snack. Josh McIntyre did 2 short poems, the story of partying a bit too much, "Wedding Memories," & "Perspective."

Laura Whalen made a rare appearance at an open mike (here to support David Kaczynski) with a poem inspired by her niece, "What the White-tail Deer Meant to a Young Girl." Sue Jefts read a poem filed with the moon & leaves & sounds of the winter solstice, then read "This Breath," hands & words building poems. Deborah Homan read for the first time ever & her poem "Empty Promises" blasted her ex. Alan Catlin's poem "Listening to the Radio at 1:35 AM" combined bleak music & Scotch, while "Self-Portrait: Andy Warhol's Old Sparky in the Background" was actually about a sketch of Robert Lewis Stevenson. "The Old Zen Swordsman," Charles Watt's poem, also included a geisha. Tracey Oatfield (his first time reading, too) recited poems whose source I missed, but filled with "Thou" & "Thy."

Still another poetry virgin, Dylan, was a bit more modern with urban rhymes in the poem "Blind" while "The Rebel" told a story of revolt. I think it's been a couple years since Rachael read at the open mic; first an untitled piece, looking for a place to be, then "Peace" urging us to learn from our mistakes. I read my brand-new poem, "Oklahoma Sunday." The night ended with the second of the mother-&-daughter teams, first the daughter Angelina Grund with a poem of lost love, "The Space Between." Then her mother, Lorraine Grund with a poem to Angelina, "Just Face It Kid," then a poem built on a line from a mariachi song, "Sing & Don't Cry" -- a good note to end on.

The first Wednesday of every month, historic Caffè Lena, Phila St., Saratoga Springs, NY, $3.00 donation.

1 comment:

Citizen Nancy said...

great stuff dan. always good to see you. I love the bit about barbara garro's creepy poem.